When you are immigrating to a new country, or setting up a company, you will surely have nothing to do with criminal law, right? Criminal law itself has several branches, including those concerning anything illegal about your immigration or your company. Whether you were actually non-compliant to Serbian law or you are just investigated, you might need an attorney well-versed in criminal law.
Typical business crimes in Serbia
The most commonly investigated business crimes in Serbia are fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, bribery, criminal anti-competition, tax evasion, environmental crimes and money laundering. A director of a company has the responsibility to know about all regulations that a related to the company’s operation, or to entrust suitable persons for this role. Since not knowing the laws is no defence against breaking them, it can happen that someone becomes guilty unintentionally.
When investigating cross-border business crime, the Serbian authorities can ask the cooperation of other countries. Typically, the crime in question is tax evasion. Serbia has several formal cooperation frameworks in place with European authorities, and such investigations have become more and more frequent in the last few years.
Personal and company liability
Corporate and personal responsibility is interconnected in Serbian criminal law. If a person entitled to act on behalf of the company commits a business crime, the company can also be held responsible and liable for damages. In such cases, the authorities will prosecute the company as well as the person in charge.
Intent and ignorance of the law
With a subset of business crimes, a necessary prerequisite is that the defendant actually intended to commit the crime of which they are accused. In such cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and they have to present evidence of the defendant’s malicious intent.
Ignorance of the law, however, can only be invoked if knowing the law was not part of the defendant’s work duties. This automatically disqualifies directors, managers and CEOs from using this defence, since their position presupposes the knowledge of relevant laws and regulations.